October 31, 2016
Sports Insider Weekly
The Washington Redskins traveled across the pond for Sunday’s match-up against the Bengals, but it didn’t end exactly as they’d hoped. Instead of heading into their bye week with a W, they are heading into it 4-3-1 and last place in the NFC East. Ties are rare in the NFL, and come only when neither team can score after the end of one 15-minute overtime period. The Redskins-Bengals unlikely tie comes just a week after the Seahawks and Cardinals tied 6-6 on Sunday night. Before that, the last tie was in 2014. In fact, the two ties are so rare that it marks the first time since 1997 that there have been two ties in a single season.
Funnily enough, that year the two ties were also in back-to-back weeks and coincidentally enough, also involved the Redskins. 19 years ago, a Ravens-Eagles tie was followed a week later by a Redskins-Giant tie. Not exactly a statistic to be proud of.
The unsatisfying ending was that much worse for Washington because they appeared to have the game won with a field goal near the end of OT. Unfortunately, the score was negated by a last-second timeout by the Bengals. And when Dustin Hopkins went to kick it again, his 34-yard field goal hooked wide left, leaving the game still a draw with 2:13 left.
“It definitely feels more like a loss than a win, because we moved the ball so well and had so many opportunities to win,” said quarterback Kirk Cousins, who had 458 passing yards for two touchdowns.
The Redskins, who have had two disappointing weeks, will use their bye to refresh and regroup before hosting the almost perfect Minnesota Vikings (5-1) on November 13.
Cleveland has dominated the 2016 World Series, the most watched Fall Classic since the Phillies faced the Yankees in 2009. They have shutout the Cubs twice–first, in an impressive 6-0 rout in Game 1, and again in a 1-0 battle in Game 3. Their dominance has delighted Cleveland fans, and confused many Cub ones. After all, Chicago had the best regular season record in the entire league.
But so far this series, they have caved under pressure, struggling to manufacture runs, leaving multiple men stranded in must-score situations. While no one doubted Cleveland’s dominance–they breezed through the playoffs–the Cubs’ anemic offense has been shocking.
After losing two straight at Wrigley Field, the Cubs were in a must-win situation on Sunday night. Trailing 3-1, the Indians had their backs against the Ivy. A loss would have ended their championship dreams at home.
Cleveland jumped ahead early, on a solo shot by Jose Ramirez. Cubs third basemen and rising star Kris Bryant went deep two innings later, which ignited a rally. They scored two more runs before the inning ended, giving the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
Behind strong pitching from Jon Lester–who struggled in Game 1–the Cubs carried the lead into the sixth. But when Francisco Lindor, who has been outstanding for Cleveland this postseason, cut the deficit to one, Chicago manager Joe Maddon decided to go his closer early, a move popular with Indians manager Terry Francona.
And Aldrois Chapman, one of the best closers in the game today, delivered. He pitched a career high 2 2/3 innings, in which he didn’t allow a single run. While he ran into some trouble in the eighth, he pitched out of, leaving the tying run stranded on third.
The victory, the Cubs’ first win in a World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945, forces a Game 6, which will be played Tuesday night in Cleveland. The Cubs will once again be under tremendous pressure; if they lose, their season is over. But players like Bryant are up to the challenge.
“I feel like we play our best with our backs up against the wall,” he said. “We went out there today, took care of business. Hopefully we can get out there and win Game 6, because you never know what will happen in a Game 7.”